(So I started working on a novel…novella..story? Anyway, thought I’d publish unedited chapters.)
“I think you just wanted to be fucked.”
He said this as a he labored over her and she let go of every single preconception and sadness she had in her soul. It wasn’t true, but at the moment, his breath is her ear, intoxicating as always was enough for anything.
They rose and fell together in the bed where they’d curled up and laughed and slept and dreamed of lives better or just like this one. He slept the corporate sleep a always and she willed herself to forget what the next day was, or what it would bring.
The end of an end that had taken too long and had hurt her too deeply. She knew from the start that this would be short lived but she fought against it, the intoxication of someone else, anyone else was too much to fight against and she was tired. But fuck it. This wasn’t happening anymore. In her mind, she turned the intoxication to disgust – she hated the heat of his breath and the adrenaline pumping through her veins and her hope and wil to want to love him and him to love her back. He reached out for her in his sleep as he always did – the unconscious part of him that needed her, since the conscious part sure as hell didn’t
But this was never going to be a love story, this was not a romantic comedy where he would latter realize his mistake and stand outside her window with a boombox, proclaiming his love. There was no love for him to give. EIther he was incapable or he just didn’t feel like it. Either way, the movie reel was snapping. Snap snap snap there was nothing left to play out.
She told herself that she would run from this in the morning, but then again she knew she would seek to keep him close as she could his hand reached out for her as they drove and she pulled away this wasn’t possible anymore she couldn’t stand to want to love him the pain of knowing she was doing something futile was enough.
So she got out of the car at the truck stop where she theoretically worked and he kissed her cheek. She told him not to come back.
Jack sat there, outside in the warmth, dreaming. She wanted to run away. And why not? She walked home, put some things in a bag, and started driving.
Montana was as you expect it to be, flat, with some trees here and there. Fences kept the snow at bay in the winter, and reminded everyone where the lines were in the summer. The fog made the trees look mysterious. Jack pulled over and stared at them for a indeterminate amount of time. So many, so alike, blending into a field of green set agains a different green and yellow. She picked out the dying ones, needles turned red-brown, the other trees inching away from the death, as if it was contagious. Who knows maybe it was some sort of tree ebola, bound to ruin the forests. She looked at the simple fence a poste every few feet, the electric poles in the distance, marking different lengths.. The fog cleared as morning progressed and she found herself still there, by the side of some highway, staring. Waiting. She grabbed her bag and got out.
She walked a mile, maybe two, you couldn’t really tell with the big sky overhead. She walked over one small hill, two big ones and over a couple of fences, She counted 152 scrub brushes or whatever the hell they were called and she lost count of the trees. At the top of the fifth hill, she laid down. Her bag as her pillow. She was only vaguely aware of the time and it was actually kin of cold, but this was where she wanted to be. She wished the sky had clouds misted of haze, or maybe the stars she was supposed to have heard about in movies. It didn’t matter. She slept, teling herself a story that she was a shaped waiting for the sheep to finish doing whatever it is that sheep do, napping in the sunlight.
Jack woke up a few hours later, shivering and unsure of what had transpired. She remember her impromptu leave of absence.
“Fuck. I could have thought about paying rent.”
Not that she loved that place anyway, with the creepy divorced guy she was sure was in love with her downstairs and something about how someone had died of alcohol poisoning in her apartment. It was cheap, and well, it was cheap.
She looked around her at the nothingness, lost in the slight hills and pockets of trees again. A tiny outbuilding sat just at the edge of her vision and a trailer not far from that. SHe hoped they didn’t own a gun, or mind strange brunettes sleeping on their property in the middle of the day.
Actually, she was hungry. SHe poked around in her bag, hoping in her need to be some sort of movie heroine that she had packed snacks.
Finally, she got up and looked toward where she thought the car was, and then toward the trailer.
“Why the hell not?” she muttered to herself and started toward the trailer.
When she reached it, she hesitated There was a small table lamp on, but her love of movies as life overtook her senses again and she flashed on thoughts of the owner as a fat man in overalls who would feed her to the pigs and keep her shoes. Oh wait, that was a n episode of criminal minds. She cou;d run, worst case.
She knocked. She heard rustling and hoped. The door opened and there stood a man straight out of Brokeback Mountain or something. He was tall and slender, with disheveled dirty blonde hair. She looked at his face. Attractive? Not really Heat ledger. But he had bright blue eyes that made up for the disproportions of his nose and ears – ears slightly too big and nose slightly….feminine. He stared at her.
“Yeah?” The brusque tone was not really welcome.
“Uhm. Hi, I’m Jack….I uh….well, my cars up the road…” she pointed…”I think over there? And I….well, I was just wondering if there was a diner or truck stop or town nearby? i’m kinda hungry.”
“You clearly aren’t from around here.”
He looked and her and squinted, as if examining her. Jack guessed it was only fair, she had just spent a good five minutes staring at the guy.
“Look, you’re about an hour from anything, unless you want-a eat at the Laundromat I would gather it’s not your taste….sandwiches always taste like soap. But it’s about the best thing ‘round here. You head west for a few hours you’ll hit Billings, east for awhile, some other town. Ya-aint really prepared for the cold out here, neither.”
She shivered in her thin long=sleeve shirt.
“Not really. I uhh…..didn’t really know where I was going.”
“Well you’re here now.”
“That’d be about right.” The whole time she couldn’t stop staring at his eyes, even when he squinted, they were brilliant. When he squinted, she ended up squinting as well, just to catch the color on the slits.
“Welp.” He stood at the door, as if waiting for her to leave. They stood in silence for a bit. She wanted to leave, and it was getting more awkward by the minute. She had no idea why she was still standing there. He sighed.
“If you’re really starvin I guess you can eat with me. Don’t gotta check on the girls until later.”
“Oh, no, I mean, that’s not really necessary, I’m sorry I just….” She trailed off.
“C’mon in then”
He held the door open for her. She stepped inside.
It was slightly less than neat inside. Piles of things collected on counter, though they were neat piles. He didn’t own much.
“You gonna sit?” He gestured at the small table.
“Sure. Uhm…what’s you name?”
He grunted, turned toward the stove. A few minutes passed then he looked over his shoulder at her. “Michael.”
“Michael. Well, thanks.”
They ate in silence. She had no idea what she was doing. 10 minutes of silence and she started chattering to fill the void.
“I mean, really, thanks for the meal. I just…I got out of a bad relationship and I had to leave and somehow I ended up in Montana and it’s really pretty out here. I grew up in the midwest y’know and I forget how much I love …”
She wasn’t sure how long she’d be rattling on about nothing when she looked at him. He was smiling. It was a toothy, big smile, stained slightly be cigarettes or coffee. Probably both.
“Y’all always talk so much.”
“My ex, Suzanne, she lived out west for awhile, too. She couldn’t stand the silence.”
“Oh. I’m sorry I ….well I should be going.”
He stood up as she did and as she turned, he grabbed her waist.
“Wait awhile.” he whispered into her ear. Oh god, the feeling of his breath.
She stayed there for a week. Curled up in his tiny trailer, him stroking her hair and telling her about the horses and cattle about. She told him about where she had come from and how lost she felt, giving her heart to someone time and again. She told him she wasn’t sure love existed or that happiness was meant for her. He quieted her with kisses and taught her to ride, showing her the subtle valleys of the land. He made her her terrible meals, and kept her wrapped up in blankets to keep her warm. HIs hands were rough, chapped and full of calluses. His back was soft as she grabbed it every night, digging her nails in as she cried out.
She left quickly, knowing if she stayed any longer that she’d fall in love again. He stood, leaning against the table, watching her pack.
“I got something for you.”
“You’ve given me enough. I’m tired.”
He chuckled. “No, really.” He handed her an old leather journal. the ties wrapping around and tied in a messy knot.
“WHen my momma died she told me to give this to you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“My family’s different than most ‘round here. I think we were part gypsy or Indian or something. My momma always had a hint of magic about her. Sounds silly, but it’s true. She healed and prayed different than most folk. This was hers and she told me someday a woman’d come through, looking for something but not sure what it was. She told me to give this to her.”
“How do you know it’s me?”
“I don’t, but you’re my best guess so far. It’s nothing special. Just a empty journal. ‘Spose she knew I liked wandering women and that they’d need to write things down.” He shrugged.
She took it, the leather warm from his grip. He wrapped his arms around her one more time, and took her to bed. She left in the night.
She drove back to Los Angeles, hopping she still had a job. THe journal sat in her bag. When she got home, she pet her neglected cat, feed him and sent him carousing into the night. She tossed the bag into her closet.
THe lights outside her semi-decent apartment were bright, as LA always was. The sweatshirt she had stolen from Michael seemed too much and she took it off, sitting on the stoop outside she looked at the twinkling of the stars of the city in buildings and street lamps and cars passing on the freeway. She sat there for awhile, looking at the stars she always had but had forgotten.